It is common for seniors to have physical and cognitive limitations that can make their diet difficult to follow. Here are some healthy nutrition guidelines for seniors, to help them get the nutrients they need in a day.
Nutrients required for good health
Senior citizens need to maintain a healthy diet to stay strong and prevent illness. The following are nutrients seniors need to consume on a regular basis:
-Fiber: A fiber-rich diet helps to keep the digestive system working properly and can reduce the risk of cancers, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Consume 25 grams of fiber per day.
-Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for seniors because it helps to protect the body against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. You can get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight or through fortified foods and drinks. Aim for at least 200 IU of vitamin D each day.
– Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart disease, dementia, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Adults should consume at least 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. You can find omega-3s in fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetable oils.
What are the daily requirements?
The goal of a healthy diet for seniors is to provide the right balance of nutrients and enough calories while keeping food costs low. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) provides the following guidelines as a starting point:
-Eating a variety of foods from all food groups every day.
– Aiming for at least 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
– Consuming lean protein sources such as fish, poultry, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and soy products.
– Avoiding saturated fats, added sugars, and processed foods.
– Taking regular breaks throughout the day to eat small snacks and drink water or nonalcoholic beverages.
Food sources of nutrients
Foods that are high in essential nutrients can help improve the health of seniors. Beneficial essential nutrients include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients. Many of these nutrients are found in plants, but some are found only in animal products.
Here are some food sources of essential nutrients for seniors:
– Vegetables: One cup of cooked vegetables provides about half of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C, as well as a good source of folate and vitamin K. Vitamin C is important for maintaining immune system function and preventing cancer.
– Fortified foods: Most breakfast cereals, breads and grains, frozen dinners, and other packaged foods have added vitamins and minerals. Look for “fortified with thiamin” or “fortified with niacin” on the label. These products can help meet the needs of people who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
– Legumes: Beans and peas are a good source of complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and several key vitamins and minerals. Black beans are especially high in folate.